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Work-From-Home Here to Stay, Says Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly by Eric Bridiers used with permission

June 12, 2020 — Americans will continue to work from home after the spread of the coronavirus is over, said Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly in a US Telecom webinar Thursday.

 

O’Rielly predicted that industries that do not require employees to be present in person would mostly continue to telework, and therefore workers would have to transition to working from home permanently.

 

“We’re going to move towards that,” he said. “We’re going to be set up and have an established facility within your own domain to be able to handle such a circumstance.”

 

Broadband is more important than ever, and O’Rielly claimed that the FCC has recently taken steps to ensure that the internet is accessible to as many people as possible.

 

However, he said, the problem is still dire.

 

“If you accept it at face value between 18 and… 20 million Americans do not have broadband of the 25/3 speed availability,” he said.

 

The agency has approved the disbursement of $16 billion of funds for underserved communities through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The money will be distributed through a reverse auction in October.

 

When asked if telecom companies could effectively deploy 5G across the country, O’Rielly was hesitantly optimistic.

 

“Could it be built? Yes,” he said. “Can it be done fast? No.”

 

He said that when it came to the rollout of such services in a widespread fashion, measured action was the best policy because funding is scarce and the projects take time.

 

“People don’t like to hear that. They want to hear in two years you’re going to solve 20 million folks that don’t have access today,” he said. “It’s not probably in the cards, and they just don’t like to hear that.”

 

Despite the pandemic and its complications, O’Rielly said, the future is bright for telework, although it will take time.

 

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